Woe to the man who betrays. It would be better for him if he had never been born.
Thomas Edward Garrett is an outskirter among the social and political elite in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, a fact that grates on his soul and claws at his mind. He is wealthy…enough. He is handsome…enough. He is well-connected…enough. He is acceptable…enough. But he fails to possess the one thing essential for full acceptance. He does not have a Charleston pedigree. Garrett’s life takes an unexpected turn when he discovers a treasure of unimaginable value. But among the artifacts in this incredible “find” is an unusual box that contains some very dangerous coins.
Suddenly, everything he desires – wealth, power, notoriety, celebrity, women – are his for the taking. And a very different power is clawing at Garrett’s mind.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite The best book for those long winter nights, Ralph E Jarrells’ Ill Gotten Gain is a blend of religious and historical mystery, perfectly constructed to communicate a sense of fear and uncertainty. When a Charleston antiques dealer discovers an ancient relic, he is tempted to believe it’s a find that is of immeasurable value and that can bring him recognition and acceptance—it’s a box that holds the thirty pieces of silver given to Judas when he betrayed Christ. But this isn’t a precious find, because from this moment on, the antiques dealer will dream of nothing but the deaths of those who have possessed the box before him, starting with Judas, and he also dreams of his own death. He is anxious to auction off the relic, but can he be saved by getting rid of the cursed coins? Ralph E Jarrells brings to life one of the oft-forgotten pieces of religious teachings and history, the destiny of the man who sold his master for thirty pieces of silver and what became of the coins. The reader encounters well-crafted and compelling characters, including the curator of the Vatican Museum and library, and an enigmatic member of the Opus Dei. Ill Gotten Gain is a story that will have great appeal for a diverse audience and it will sit well with fans of horror as well as those who adore mysteries. The writing is top-notch and readers can’t help but feel emotionally and psychologically involved in the narrative. I enjoyed the originality of this story, one of the best I have read in the genre.
Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite Thomas Edward Garrett III is a disgruntled, though relatively successful, antiques dealer based in Charleston, South Carolina, operating his established business from his large family home at 13 Church Street. He is a respected businessman; financially he is comfortable rather than rich, and enjoys a close relationship with the senator’s daughter, an attractive, vivacious woman who, in addition to attending to his emotional needs, also helps promote his business. He feels isolated, however, excluded from the established Charleston society which forms the majority of his client base. He is resentful of the fact that, as he is the first generation to grow up in the town, he is seen as a newcomer and he longs for the recognition and approbation of his peers. Ill-Gotten Gain by Ralph E. Jarrells chronicles his chance discovery of a precious hoard hidden in a disused chamber of his old house, and how the find brings almost instant fame and a fortune running into hundreds of millions of dollars, but also how a small, inconspicuous box, part of the find, brings about much more sinister changes with representatives of the Pope and Opus Dei arriving at his door. With terrifying dreams and vested interests shattering his confidence, hounded by the media, and with all those around him displaying a competence and confidence he cannot match, is it possible for Thomas Edward Garrett III to survive the physical and mental storm that has engulfed him? Ill-Gotten Gain by Ralph E. Jarrells explores an intriguing idea – what happened to the thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas Iscariot for the betrayal of Jesus Christ? Written in an intricately detailed style, the character, life and thought processes of each of the central players of the piece are laid bare as the narrative proceeds at an unhurried, deliberate pace. Personally, I found it difficult to feel sympathy for our hero as he seemed to be the architect of his own misfortunes, but behind it all there was a feeling that the contents of a small stone box could have had a great deal of influence over his reasoning. In his first novel Mr Jarrells has chosen a truly original theme to launch his career as an author, producing a complex, multi-layered plot of surprising quality. Excellent work from a new author who is sure to find further success in the field.